Dr. Ralph Mayer on being a gay dad, intergenerational relationships and his budding acting career.
BY MARK ARIEL | PHOTO BY DUSTI CUNNINGHAM
He is a doctor and he plays one on TV.
To say that Los Angeles based obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Ralph Mayer is a man of many hats would be a gross understatement. In addition to his expertise in woman’s heath issues, Dr. Mayer also specializes in anti-aging medicine, trans hormone care and STDs.
A gay man—previously married to a woman—Dr. Mayer is also a television host and actor. You may have seen him on “The Doctors,” or more recently on the popular web series “Child Of The 70s.”
In an interview with THE FIGHT Dr. Mayer talks about being a gay dad, his involvement with PrEP, intergenerational relationships and his budding acting career.
Dr. Mayer, how was the coming out process with your ex-wife and children?
My ex-wife is an amazing woman. She was very understanding and we tried to do an alternative thing. But ultimately she said she couldn’t handle me having men outside the marriage. We divorced shortly thereafter. The kids—two boys— were about 2 and 5 at the time.
The children were so little at the time that me being gay is just what it is.
My ex-wife and I have a wonderful relationship now and have been committed to raising these boys in a loving environment. They are 17 and 20 now—one just graduated and is going to UCI—the other is a junior at UC Berkeley.
“I love dad/son role play and working with a great therapist came to be able to listen to my own internal compass and dismiss outside judgment. I am most comfortable with younger men. There is a light and fun and spontaneous nature to the interaction.”
Was your marriage an attempt to live as a heterosexual man?
My father was so mean about gays that I had a strong fear of gays and feared that I could not be a successful, worthwhile person if I was gay. So I stayed “straight” and married for 10 years.
What field of medicine interested you when you first started your studies?
My goal in medical school was to be a plastic surgeon. however, I hated my surgery rotation at UCLA and decided to go where I felt the camaraderie and entered OB/GYN residency at Cedars Sinai.
I then did a fellowship in a surgical sub-specialty of Gynecology called Urogynecology. I do bladder control and pelvic surgery for women. I also own and operated clinics for low-income women and children.
When did you start getting involved with in anti-aging medicine and trans hormone care?
The areas outside of specialty that I practice are things that I do for myself. I’ve had low thyroid for 20 years and love treating thyroid disorders.
Also—being a gynecologist we get a lot of training with hormones. My Urogynecology practice deals with older women a lot so I’m well versed in menopause hormone therapy, which is basically the same as treating a trans female.
For myself—I have been dabbling in male hormones, growth hormone, HCG etc for anti-aging purposes for many years.
Prior to age 35 and now I’m 51—I never believed in fillers and hormones. I love when my clients now ask to look just like me! I do really good work with hormones fillers and botox. I like my face to be able to move, just not too much.
I also pride myself on working with populations that others tend to dismiss. For many years I had a large practice of HIV poz women who have very special needs.
How did you get involved with PrEP?
PrEP came onto my radar about two years ago. I did my research and knew that I was something that I was interested in doing for myself. After beginning it my life changed. It was the first time that I got an HIV test without having extreme anxiety. An article in New York magazine called it “guilt free sex” comparing PrEP to when birth control came out for women in the 1950s. Finally sex without worry! I loved it. Unfortunately I had to go off of PrEP because of the rare kidney function side effect.
However, I am still a huge fan believe that it should be available to everyone. And I do my best to spread the word and even did my own PSA to advocate its use. Currently I am on the wait list for the study at UCLA for the three month injectable version.
I think the most important thing about discovering PrEP was the understanding that positive people are the safe ones. I know this data isn’t fully out yet, but within the next year the research will be widely available. I call people that are positive and undetectable the new true negatives. There has never been a known transmission of the virus. Seems people have a hard time hearing this now but I think when this data becomes more available HIV stigma will be a thing of the past.
At what point did you realize you wanted to go into acting?
Initially I never thought about going into acting… I sang as a kid and was studying voice. My voice coach wanted me to have more drama in my singing and I interviewed acting classes. I wound up at Brian Reise Acting Studios with Elizabeth MacDonald and haven’t looked back. I never sang again and have found my thing. My passion.
How did your acting career begin, and where do you see it going?
I just started submitting myself for student films. I started booking parts and filming. My first film was a student adaptation of a scene from Mad Men. I played Pete Campbell. It was a huge moment and I fell in love.
This month I will be filming as a recurring guest star of the web series “Child Of The 70s.” I can’t say too much about the part but my character interacts intimately with Susan Olson (who played Cindy Brady on the Brady Bunch). I’m excited and nervous. It’s a big role!
Will you leave the medical profession if acting turns into a full time job?
Yes! I also do hosting. So perhaps my big break will come from something that combines medicine and acting. Day-time talk show? Infomercial host?
What is your stance on intergenerational relationships? Do you see yourself as a “daddy?”
One of my usernames online is DaddyDoc. I love dad/son role play and working with a great therapist came to be able to listen to my own internal compass and dismiss outside judgment. I am most comfortable with younger men. There is a light and fun and spontaneous nature to the interaction.
The thing that I am most attracted to in a man is creativity. I like people who do good in the world and are creative and talented. I also like men that I have stuff in common with. I love crossfit and yoga. I love hiking. My dog Johnny (poodle mix) and I are at Runyon Canyon at least twice a week. I love music of all kinds. I play the piano and have music streaming in my house all the time.
Are you currently in a relationship?
I am currently single and dating.
Is there anything we haven’t asked you that you would like to share with our readers?
I am also an artist and specialize in abstract art and bead jewelry. I’m very active on Instagram and want people to follow me there!